Believe in Dictionaries (But Only to a Degree)

Does looking up the word for your Hebrew tattoo, in a dictionary, sounds like a good idea? Today's victim apparently thought so...

The girl wanted a Hebrew tattoo saying a very spiritual "believe". The resulting tattoo actually does say "believe", but it also has several extras, attached for free.

Look at the right part of the tattoo, the letter Pe in parentheses. This is the dictionary's shorthand, indicating a verb. Now look at the leftmost character of the tattoo... What do we have there, could it be an unmatched random parenthesis? Oh yeah. However did it get there?

Without all the special extras, the Hebrew tattoo saying "Believe" (as in "to believe") should look like this:

If you want your "Believe" as an order (believe!), that would be a little bit different.

The lesson of this little story should be clear - Dictionaries are alright for getting your tattoo material, but some good judgment should be applied as well. Also, if something looks like a punctuation mark - it most likely isn't an unknown ancient symbol.


  1. "Oy, wie langa, wie schlimma!" which to my peoples is mean: "The longer it goes, the worse it gets!" Next step downhill: 'Pe Ha'ta'ba'at' (which is what I thought it said at first quick glance. Of course that would be tattooed a butt lower. (Sorry, I meant 'bit') I'd go out with a girl with a verb on her neck, I suppose, if I were feeling esp. transitive, but I'd have to buy her another parenthesis for her birthday, just to feel 'sha'lem. Another loser 'winner', Typo.

  2. I think in general, dictionaries are evil. They give the illusion that a word has a value out of context.
    This is also true for the "I'm free" post.

  3. @Yoni - It might not be as bad as THAT, but look at the bright side, you already have the perfect gift for the girl's birthday, no need for guesswork!

    @Dan - Definitely. Out of context Hebrew is very problematic, as it just looks random. Words like "Believe" or "Dance" or "Forgiven" simply don't convey the desired meaning when used out of context.

  4. I just now checked 3 dictionaries, pretending I didn't know a word of Hebrew. Sure enough, the innocent victim is truly defenseless. Yet in principle, a 25 agorot phone call would do wonders for most of our 'Perplexed in need of Guidance'. My suggestion: re-define the 'dictionary' as 'Bet ha'me'lim'; It'll be a little house on every corner, free coffee, and 12 friendly volunteers staffing it, even on shabbat. And Typo gets to divide up the tips in the jar, ha.


Please use the Name/URL option to sign your comment (URL is optional).
Comments signed as Anonymous won't be published anymore.